Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Think I Passed!

Less than 6 hours after I posted "Attitude is Everything!", I was given the opportunity to show whether I am all hot air, or if I really believe what I said.

Our lives changed drastically almost 3 short months ago, when on the afternoon of March 4th, 2009, my home was completely lost to a house fire. The firemen were able to save our garage, but other than that, the entire house is a loss-actually, there a several complete walls that are just GONE. The house burnt up in about an hour's time.

So! In my last post on this blog, I talked about a few positives of a good attitude. Not to blow my own horn, but I think that I can honestly say that, if this was a test of my own attitude, I think I passed! In fact, I think others would agree! And when acquaintances find out my son and hubby got carbon monoxide poisoning a month and a day later, and spent an evening on oxygen in the ER, and then 4 days later my hubby fell out of a tree and was in the hospital for 10 days, the expressions are quite entertaining!

Many have said, "You seem so upbeat thru all of this!". But you know why? Because I've looked at the entire picture, and can see over and over again how God has had everything completely in control. Even from the day of the fire, it was a time to remember what I really loved in life, and it wasn't my STUFF. It's my family-and my husband could have been seriously injured or killed. I still have him, along with my children who were not home.

I won't go thru all the details, but you can read my chocolate bouquet blog for the whole story.

But I am coming out of what has happened, instead of just entering these events, and I can say that, Life is Good, and God is Awesome!

Our family is well, and we just bought a house. My children love it, and that means a lot to me.

It seems that this should be the most stressful time I've ever faced, but I am well, and have peace with my world.

You know, if I had not put my trust in God, and looked at how He has worked, I could have given in to another attitude-a bad one. I can't say that I actually ever felt a bad one coming on, and I've certainly never been upset at God thru these events, but if I had, I could be a bitter, miserable person today. I could dwell on losing everything, and that my husband is disabled for the time being, and that my son nearly died, and I had a close call with widowhood THREE times in less than 6 weeks time! But instead, I can say, Hey! We're all ALIVE!!! Hubby gets a break from his very hard physical job as a tree climber, and I still have my son to hug and love on because he didn't die from the carbon monoxide. My temporary home is adorable, and we just bought a house that is in a friendly and quiet neighborhood, with a yard full of flowers, bushes, plants, etc. Not to mention there is plenty of room for visitors!!!

To be honest, I've never felt like I've been in God's perfect will as much as I do now. I feel like I am right where He wants me to be, and I LOVE IT!!!

So anyway, I just wanted to say, I think I passed!!! And life is good!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Attitude is Everything!

Attitude:  manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes.

It is amazing how much attitude plays a part in our everyday lives.  You can probably look at almost anyone, and pick up something about their attitude, if it is good, bad, lazy, vain, cheerful, hateful, or one of many, many other things.  Sometimes it is just for the moment, or is about a certain topic, but part of being human is "reading" what you see.  

What is great about attitude is....we can change ours if we need to!  There is nothing desirous of a bad attitude, and we've all had one at one time or another, even if it's just been for a few minutes when something went wrong.  But I just want to mention a few positives of a
good attitude to always keep in mind-and yeppers!  I've changed mine according to the positives below!
  • It makes people respond to you in a better way.  
If you go to work with a good attitude, people will be happier to see you, and will want to interact with you more than if you go to work with a bad attitude.  

When you've made a mistake, or have done something wrong, if you own up to it and keep your attitude right(good and humble), people will respond more positively.

With people worried about our economy these days, if you show a good attitude that is trying to be optimistic, people that want to feel hope will be more drawn to you than if you join the media and all of it's doom and gloom attitude.
  • It helps in time of conflict.
Married couples need to learn this!  Whether you are a Christian or not, the Bible has these wise words to share:  Proverbs 15:1  soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
If you have a difference in opinion, ideas, or conviction, keeping a humble attitude that shows in your voice and demeanor not only calms the waters, but will also get your voice heard much more so than if you are a raging maniac.  Defenses are let down when your attitude is humble.
  • It sets an example for others, especially those in your own household.
You can teach your children to "do as I say and not as I do", but guess what?  What they live with will affect how they think.  If you have a horrible attitude about everything, there's a good chance that they will be pessimistic.  

On the other hand, if you show those around you a good attitude,  you are helping them to see the glass as half full instead of half empty, and our families need this when there is so much negative that is in the world.

One of the ladies I hold as a role model in my own life is a few years younger than me.  I've known her for 16 years, and have seen her face incredible circumstances.  Money is not what has made her my role model(I know that some look at financially successful people as role models), for she is not rich.  It is her exceptional attitude.  She has faced situations that would make many of us crumble, but she has handled them with a gracefulness that I envy.  She is a beautiful Christian woman, and has leaned on the Lord for her strength-I know that she wouldn't want me to just give her all the credit.  But instead of blaming God for the hardships of life, or turning from Him in her most difficult times, she has kept a good attitude, and God is and will reward her for that.

Aren't we all inspired by others who have kept a good attitude in hard times?  If we didn't, there wouldn't so many books published on people who have beat the odds of their circumstances.  

When I face my hardest times, don't give me a book full of pages of someone going thru the same thing, and how they agonized and suffered every waking moment-I already know all of that!  Give me a story about someone who is facing the same thing, and show me their positive attitude so that I can learn how to make it thru my hardest times too!

These are just a few things that a good attitude can do.  I know there are many other things.

I really do believe that attitude is everything!  I continue to work on mine!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Money I'm Entitled To Throw Away

I am very grateful to being a US citizen--we are a very blessed country, and I don't want to take it for granted.  I thank God often for my freedom.

Unfortunately, our society seems to have forgotten that we are blessed, and younger generations seem to feel entitled instead.  Most of us really have no idea what it means to be poor.

I remember reading the words of a young person in a magazine a few years back, and he talked about how his country was at war, and for an entire year, all he had to eat was rice.  I never go to my cupboards and say, "There is nothing to eat."  I just wouldn't feel right to say those words.  

With our country now in a recession, people are feeling a financial crunch, and many people are losing their jobs.  We are still so blessed in America, that even in a financial crunch, many opportunities still arise.  Some places go out of business, while innovative minds will open new businesses, and others will become self employed.  America looks for hope in our change of leadership, and President Obama plans to create new jobs.

One thing that has bothered me is the bailout that we had when President Bush was in office.  What a lot of it boiled down to is, a lot of people bought homes they couldn't afford in the first place.  Why?  Because we're entitled?  And then the bailout money was not used for it's intended purpose, and not to mention all of the little extras that were thrown into the deal.  Now we are going more into debt with the stimulus package, and I don't feel that a good example is being set in front of us by borrowing more and more money.  The government borrows, and we borrow too.  Not that I'm giving excuse to our own irresponsbility, but we now think, "It's just the American way.  We'll always have debt."

So!  We think that we're so wealthy, but are we?  How much is our deficit???

When we have $10,000 in credit card debt, is the $2,000 we have in our savings account really ours?

Back to the recession...

Again, I am not making light of families losing their income because of lost jobs.  I do, however, think that many of us can make it thru our country's financial crunch easier than we think.  Much of it has to do with our mindset.

Here is a list of things we can do to make our dollars stretch further:
  • Get over the idea that we are entitled.  Start living within our means.
  • We are not entitled to a new wardrobe every six months-shop at thrift stores if you have to, and buy what you need.  Thrift does not mean junk.
  • We do not have to have a Coke everytime we stop at the gas station.
  • The library can save us a small fortune!
  • We had no choice but to pay the high prices at the gas pump, and we made it.  Think of how you managed to scrape together the extra $100 a month that was going into your gas tank, and now use it for savings or for paying off debt.
  • We are not entitled to have every snack and goody the grocery store has to offer.  Cut out a bunch of pop and junk food from the list, drink more water, buy on sale and use coupons.  Don't be brand picky on everything.  I regularly cut my grocery bill almost in half when I use coupons.
  • Trade in your brand new car for an older model-you'll save on insurance and car payments.  And if you trade in an SUV for a mid-size car, you'll save on gas too.  Don't listen to everyone who says you have to have a new car in order to have a dependable car.  I've had very little problem with my 16 year old car.  And when I do need new tires or the normal yearly inspection with a few worn out parts that need replaced, I can afford it much easier because I'm not paying $400 a month on car payments-I pay less that $120.
  • Stop worrying about what others think.  We're all made the same-money doesn't make you or me a better person.  If our friends are our friends because of the money they think we have, then it's time to find new friends.  And it's also time to find ourselves and enjoy living because we have friends that like US, not our stuff.
  • We are not entitled to vacations, clothes, cars, social clubs, special events, coffee addictions, or restaurant addictions we can't afford.
  • Spend more time with family and friends, and less time going out--there are more benefits than just saving money!
Once again, you have my two cents!  :)  We're so blessed, we've cursed ourselves.  We're more stressed than ever, even tho we are more privilidged than ever.  This should make us stop and think about where real happiness comes from, and that the most important things in life aren't things.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dolls **some adult content**

This one might get rotten tomatoes thrown at me, but, oh well!

The characters you see here are in your local Walmarts and such, all over the country.  In case you didn't know, these are not models for Victoria's Secret.  These are the very popular dolls that you will find in your toy section.  They are called Bratz.  

I am blown away at how popular these dolls have become over the last several years.  Why?
Because they are geared for girls ages 7-11, although even younger girls want them.  According to what I've read, these dolls are teenagers.

I just cannot see how a parent can overlook the danger of these dolls.  PROVOCATIVE is written all over these "girls"!  And provocative is a less offensive word than a few other descriptive words that come to mind.

Would I EVER allow my teenage daughter to dress like this?
Would I want my 4-11 year old daughter to look at this as a role model?
Do I want my child to have a doll that is named after what I don't want my daughter to be-a BRAT?  I mean, these girls do talk about "brattitude".
What kind of thoughts enter the mind with low-cut blouses, a mini skirt and high heels?  Or a mini skirt and knee high platform boots?  Not to mention the full lips.  
And I guess if these dolls are teenagers, why are they geared for ages 11 and under?

Found on Wikipedia(I know Wikipedia is not always gospel, but I think this is probably accurate):

Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality

– APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls

Also according to Wikipedia, a Bratz spokesperson said:
The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a 'passion for fashion'.

I am all for promoting friendship bonds, but the fashion styles they promote bring the word "passion" out in a different meaning than what they are claiming.  Not to mention, too much fashion passion in any sense can cause a loftiness that our girls don't need.

One mother said she was bothered to sit and watch the show with her daughter, and hear the Bratz talking about getting nose jobs.  How sad to encourage little girls to be unhappy with who they are.

Anyway you look at it, these dolls are sending wrong messages.  Why would anyone want their teenager to look 25 years old?  Our society is LOADED with images and new ideas of areas of life that should be very private.  It seems like an agenda to introduce them to sexiness when they are 4 years old.  It become the norm, it becomes acceptable.  God help us!

My two cents...Scary, scary, scary!    

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let a Young Person Know You Care

If you've never had your breath taken away because you've had to see a child in a casket, you are blessed.

If you've never had to see your own child in a casket, please be sure to hug them and tell them how much you love them.  Those of us who have never lost a child cannot even begin to imagine the suffering that the family faces.

In the past two years, I've been to the funerals of two young people, our dear friends' son, Nicholas Masiker, and a 10 year old boy my daughter knew.

Garrett was a little boy who was a neighbor to my children's friends.  He was in a drowning accident.  My daughter and I went to the funeral, and people were given the opportunity to stand up and say something at the funeral.  His uncle travelled to Pennsylvania from Michigan to the funeral, and stood up to address us all.  He said that he was sad to say he didn't know Garrett very well.  And he exhorted the crowd to get to know their families.  I know that Garrett's uncle never dreamed he would be seeing his little nephew in a casket at such a young age.

Nicholas was 18 when he was in a car accident in severe weather conditions.  He and another young man, Nate Zdarko, we killed.  Our little Pennsylvania city was in mourning, as you could tell when you drove past the funeral home and saw the line of people down the road, waiting to enter the funeral home to offer their sympathies to the families.  

Nicholas was my children's friend, their classmate, and part of our church family.  We all saw Nicholas several times a week at church.  So many people thought of Nicholas as a best friend.  He was quite a young man!  His wittiness, talent, and great imitations were all a part of this young man that our family had known from the time he was just a little boy.  As humorous as he was, he seemed to me to have a little bit of a shy side too.  I am not a very outgoing person, and I tend to not be very talkative for the most part.  One of my last memories of Nicholas is walking past him at church in our vestibule.  We didn't say anything to each other, but my regret is that I didn't.  I really believe we need to let young people know that we care, that we think they are a-ok, and that we appreciate them.  I cannot go back in time and tell Nicholas, but I've made it a point to let other young people know that I appreciate them.

Today marks the second year anniversary of losing Nicholas.  My blogs today are dedicated to this young man who was a gift to all.  Please look at my chocolate bouquet blog to read a story from Nicholas' sister Laura.  You'll see a tiny bit of the funny things Nicholas said as a little boy.  :)  

If you take the time to read my blogs today, please remember to say a prayer for Nicholas' family.  Pray for God's continued strength to them.  And I thank you.  


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Helping the Heavy Heart

I remember a message I heard at church a few years ago.  The preacher had on a suit, his hair looked nice, and all looked well.  When he took off his suit jacket, the "all-together" look we had seen changed.  His white dress shirt had black words written all over it.  Words of pain and heartache.  The message was, you may see that a person looks good on the outside, but sometimes we don't see the pain and heartache on the indside.

There are heavy hearts all around us.  This week in particular is a sobering, sad week for me.  It marks the two year anniversary of my dear friend losing her son in an accident.  It is also the week I learned that a lady I know found out her husband has cancer, and they are giving him 6 months to a year to live.  And another young man I knew when he was smaller passed away a few days ago.

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do know a few things that I can do or shouldn't do:

*Never say "I know how you feel" if you have not faced the same situation.  If you have never lost a young child, or a husband, or are facing cancer with your spouse, you really don't know how that person feels.  It sounds callous to say that you do.

*I think that it is better to give a hug and pray for a person, than to try to say the "right" things, and say too much.  People mean well, but sometimes they can say the dumbest things.  I remember reading where someone lost a loved one, and someone told them that they knew how they felt because their dog died.

*You cannot know the pain of death that another person is suffering with if you have never experienced it yourself.  You just can't.

*People do not bounce back from a death for a long, long time.  When our lives go on just a few months down the road, a part of them has died, and they suffer and cry much more and much longer than they show.  I was shocked that after just a few months of our 18 year old friend Nicholas passing away, that someone had the nerve to tell his 19 year old sister that it was time to move on.

*Sometimes a meal helps a family that is coping with loss, or whose heads are swimming because they've been delivered news of terminal illness.  

*Sometimes offering to be available to watch smaller children is a help to a mother and father who have lost a child.  

*Sometimes just being a listening ear and a friend to cry with is a help as well.  Just to know that others care means so much.

I lost my father 4 years ago, and the sting of death is beyond words.  I do know how it feels to not be able to think clear enough to clean my house, and how it feels to want the world to stop so I can get off for a while.  But I'm also blessed to know the Comforter who helped me thru the darkest days, and to have friends who loved me enough to just listen to me cry and talk about my daddy.  

But I don't know how it feels to lose a child, or to lose my lifelong partner, or to be told that my home is facing cancer.  I can only go by what I've experienced myself, but believe that caring gestures and acts are always acceptable.  I cannot even fathom losing a child.  But I can offer my truest prayers and care.

And one last thought...

We've probably all heard "Judge not".  When  it comes to people that we meet on the street, or even people that we know rather well, I think this is something we should try to practice.  As was illustrated in the message I heard at church, we really don't know what lies behind a person's smile.  We don't know who is ready to collapse under the pressures in their lives.  

I'm thankful for those who have shown patience to me--I have certainly needed it in times past, and am sure I will need it again.

And this two cents.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not-So-Common Ways to Save Big Money

These are some not-so-common ways you may not have thought of for saving money:

1.  Floss your teeth!  :)  I know from personal experience that flossing would have saved me a few thousand dollars!  It helps avoid small cavities, and if you don't catch your problems sooner, you end up with root canals and crowns.  Even flossing a few times a week makes a difference.

Approximate savings:  
Floss:                         $5 a year?
Dental issues:           $3000 in 15 years
2.  Buying an older car with low miles.  A rough run-down on old vs. new:

                                              New Car                                     Old Car
                                              --------                                      --------
Monthly payment              $350                                            $113
Months to pay                      72                                                  36
Insurance per month         $83                                               $64
Gas per month(1.80           $120                                            $120
  per gallon, mid size car)
Totals                                  $553, +3 more years                  $297 + ins., gas, etc 
                                             payments, ins., gas, etc.                until car gets worn out

This very rough estimate doesn't include maintenance.  Some people feel that older cars cost just as much in car repairs as a new car.  Older cars with low miles don't have all that much wear.  I found that a newer car we owned once had more expensive parts-when they needed replaced, it sometimes cost quite a bit.

Savings per month:  Approximately $256.  
Savings per year:     Approximately $3072.

That equals a few house payments, several electric bills, house repairs, a good month worth of eating,  or whatever else $250 can do for you!

With everyone talking about money being tight, this would surely help a lot of households!
Take care of your health.  If you do not have insurance, medications can be quite expensive.  The fewer doctor appointments you need, the better.  :)  A visit to my doctor with no insurance is $60.  

There are insurance companies that you can use to buy insurance, but another point to ponder-you cannot buy insurance if you have diabetes, and diabetes affects more and more people all the time.  

Exercise, quit smoking, cut down on sugar and junk in your diet, get check-ups with your doctor.  You can save a fortune!  

Even tho I don't know how to cure my allergies, my medications cost nearly $100 a month at regular price.  Fortunately we have insurance, so the cost is closer to $40.  But if I have other issues that need meds, I could spend a lot more in a hurry!  So much easier to do some self-maintenance at home.  :)
Just a few random babblings!  I love to save money, or at least spend less!  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Elderly in the United States

In this great country that I live, all too often I see something that I don't like. In our country, it seems that we often "throw away" the elderly.

With all of our conveniences-cars, cell phones, computers, microwaves, and so many other things that we all have to make our lives easier-, we are busier than ever, and constantly moving on the fast track of life. As connected as we are thru computers, cell phones, texting, fax machines, etc., we seem to be more disconnected than ever.

In America, it seems that we need to work extra hours, run here, run there, take care of doctor appointments, errands, children's events, and what seems like a million other things. And during all of this commotion when our lives are so busy, we don't have time for the elderly.

Unfortunately, there are real reasons that some are not able to visit their elderly relatives as much as they would like, but when the opportunity arrives, I wish that everyone would remember three things:

1. Patience!!! Many of our elderly loved ones are crippled, have heart conditions, cannot speak a sentence very easily, cannot get around very easily, or are quite forgetful. We need to remember that this comes with age!

The older I get, the more I realize what an accomplishment it is for a person to reach their 80's in years! These people deserve for us to show them kindness and care! We need to remember that their ailments are not by choice. Too often we get frustrated with their slower ways because we are too used to the fast track.

But someday, our time is going to come as well. A day where we can no longer remember our grandchild's name right away, or when we have to depend on someone else to take us to our many doctor appointments because we are losing our sight and cannot see well enough to drive anymore.

I remember being in a store one day, and a lady was with her elderly mother(who was probably in her late 70's or early 80's), in line in front of me. The elderly mother turned around too fast and lost her balance. The cashier quickly reached across the counter to help steady the mother, and the daughter spoke to her mother in a voice that was a bit scolding, and impatient.

I know that I've seen people that seem to "scold" because they are actually embarrassed by their relative's behavior, but it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Losing my own father at the early age of 64, I would LOVE to be able to reach out and help him walk! I would LOVE to slow my steps so that I could walk with him again! I would love to have the opportunity to refresh his memory of some information he had forgotten.

Maybe sometimes we really can't understand the blessing of the life of another until they are no longer with us.

2. I wish we would stop and listen, and realize the wealth an elderly person has to offer when they walk down the memory lane of their own life. There are so many wonderful stories that they can share! They can tell us things first-hand, that we will never read in a text book! We may read about the wars, but how fascinating to talk to a soldier that was there! Can you imagine talking to someone who survived the sinking of the Titanic? Or who made it out alive from the Holocaust? Or someone who had to rely on God to supply food during the great Depression, when the government could not help? Or who was able to see many miraculous healings before modern medicine could do so much?

How wonderful to hear the simple pleasures that children enjoyed back in the 20's or 30's! How sweet to hear of marriages that began after knowing each other for only 2 weeks, and lasting "'til death do us part" 60 years later!

I clean houses, and most of my customers are elderly. I've been blessed to see pictures around their homes from when they were newlyweds, and their children were small, and how they faced obstacles along the way that were conquered, or how they were business owners and loved what they did! My customers are a blessing to me!

I have an elderly friend who cared for his wife until she died, who could not read but worked hard all of his life and saved several hundred thousand dollars in his bank account. This man has endured some very hard times since his wife passed away, and has difficulty speaking, but his heart is full of love! Last summer I took him out to dinner, and his happiness was so great, that I think I ended up with the bigger blessing! And when we were leaving, he let me know how much it helped him to feel like someone didn't think he was stupid. A man who saved several hundred thousand dollars and has a heart full of love for people, and he feels stupid--how very, very sad!

I have an elderly customer that is losing her sight and can no longer drive. She knows who I am, but cannot really see my face-mostly she sees forms. I take her to lunch occasionally, and she is always so grateful. Again, I think it is me who recieves more of a blessing because of how it makes her so delighted!

3. One other thing I wish we would do is have compassion on the elderly that seem so untouchable. They are grouchy, hateful, angry, bitter or distant on purpose. We need to remember that not everyone has had a loving family that has comforted them thru their hard times. We need to remember that not everyone has known that they can be comforted by the Lord when they are hurting, so they've felt like they've had to carry a burden too heavy all on their own. And some of them have so much pain in their bodies that it comes out thru their voice.

I have a pair of elderly sisters that I clean for occasionally. One sister gets around very well, and is able to keep active with laundry, etc. The other sister does not share the same good health. She is terribly crippled, has broken her neck or shoulder(I don't remember which), cannot walk standing straight up, and has a very difficult time getting around. I helped these ladies move from their farm house in the country to a senior citizen's apartment complex much closer to town. The sister who has the better health actually thanked me for my patience with her sister, because of all of her ailments that slow her down and cause her to sound angry when she speaks.
I hope that we can all share an extra smile or hug with an elderly person this week, and let them know that we haven't forgotten them. Young mothers and overworked fathers may not always have a chance to sit down and just visit, but I'm sure we can ALL do a little more for the elderly.